As the world continues to fight the coronavirus, scientists have identified a new flu strain that could create another pandemic — and it comes from China.
The virus is the latest development of the swine flu, which last hit the U.S. in 2009. The new virus has been named G4 EA H1N1, is currently carried and passed by pigs, and can also infect humans, the BBC reported Tuesday. However, it is believed the virus cannot currently be passed from human to human.
If the strain successfully mutates into a virus that can be passed by humans to other humans, the likelihood of a pandemic that can reach global proportions is significantly increased.
Researchers recommend in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that all those working with pigs should be closely monitored to check the potential spread of the new virus. (RELATED: Trump Snaps Over Obama Criticism, Says Swine Flu Response Was A ‘Disaster’)
While the new strain of swine flu poses no immediate threat, the rapid spread of coronavirus has illustrated how quickly an isolated viral outbreak can become a world crisis.
It is unknown if people would possess any immunity to a new flu strain, the BBC notes, adding that although existing flu vaccines are seemingly powerless to stop it, scientists may be able to adapt them to the new disease.
“Right now we are distracted with coronavirus and rightly so. But we must not lose sight of potentially dangerous new viruses,” Prof Kin-Chow Chang of the United Kingdom’s Nottingham University told the BBC. “We should not ignore it.”
China reportedly ignored the ongoing coronavirus outbreak initially and suppressed people trying to sound the alarm. A recent study indicated that the disease may have struck the country in late summer or early fall 2019 — months before the Chinese Communist Party’s admission of a problem.
China did not formally identify the COVID-19 virus to the World Health Organization (WHO) until Dec. 31, 2019, while U.S. intelligence said China grossly under-reported the amount of deaths incurred by the disease early in the crisis.
The South China Morning Post found evidence of a COVID-19 case as early as Nov. 17, 2019.
China’s record for transparency on the beginnings and spread of the virus has been severely criticized. Authorities gagged doctors, whistleblowers and journalists who attempted to break the news about the sickness. (RELATED: Peter Navarro Says China Used ‘The Four Kills’ To Attack America Through The Coronavirus Pandemic)
If China had acted swiftly to contain the disease, it may have reduced the global transmission of the virus by as much as 95%, one study concluded.
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has recently surged, with many Americans once again fearing infection as the number of cases rapidly rises in several states.